Can a project be truly successful without bringing people along as part of the transformation journey? In this, the first of our expert series, Simon Puryer looks at the true value of aligning people to business transformation, our approach and our insights.
People must be the priority
Aligning people with the change is the glue that will not only lead to transformation success but ensure continued adoption and acceptance of the change, and ultimately a return on your investment.
Too many organisations do not consider people engagement as the priority and either don’t involve them at all or wait until the end of the project when the initiative has been completed. We always encourage this process to be activated from the start and to continue for the duration of the initiative. Often those engaged early enough will become future champions, a voice for the project and help sell the change internally.
The key questions to answer are the what and the how?
Often the challenge is where to start and this provides a great grounding. An impact assessment will enable you to highlight all those that are to be affected by any form of the change and detail the real impact to each of them. It is by identifying and considering all stakeholders, not just the senior ones, that all scenarios can be fed into the process. Explore beyond the functional change which may only impact the key operators and there may be many others impacted in their day-to-day activity who can have valuable input into the process.
The communication mechanism for engaging those individuals should be tailored and will depend on business type, geography, organisational set-up and culture, to name a few. The best communication mechanism could be something traditional such as memos, emails, posters, stand ups. Alternatively there are more innovative approaches – at a recent site we created a series of two minute videos to engage with staff in the way they wanted to be communicated to.
Pulse Checks are a great way to continually keep all stakeholders engaged and test for effectiveness. These can be used to check-in to make sure messaging is not only delivered but also understood. Pulse checks provide a valuable opportunity to review, adapt and improve engagement plans.
The Risks of not aligning people to business transformation
Naturally, people are resistant to change and by not engaging with them correctly you risk them becoming blockers with an unwillingness or inability to adapt to the new process, system or solution. People will also not understand what they need to do and are likely to resort to old ways of working.
One of the biggest risks of not involving people in the transformation process is misconceptions about how things are done today, not talking to the right people and incorrectly assuming the As-Is current state.
Often you will uncover undocumented processes, work-arounds, even post-it notes of things that the system won’t do currently being managed by manual over-rides. These could be significant, previously unknown single points of failure that could otherwise be missed. How can you even begin to cater for these scenarios in a new system if they are not known about? The risk is that you are left with a simple lift and shift of the old system, issues and all.
Unlocking the true ‘As-Is’
Typically, lots of organisations do not truly appreciate the value of understanding the As-Is – they want to get on with the fun stuff of designing new systems and processes. Without engaging with those people actually undertaking the tasks and using the systems or processes, vital steps or unwritten activities can be overlooked.
For example, a recent payroll implementation project worked with an organisation of over 800 sites – it was impossible for those driving the change programme to know about them all. In some of those locations the process was not written down, there were manual interventions, process over-rides and lots of undocumented essential tasks to ensure correct data was used. Without engaging all these stakeholders those vital processes would have been overlooked and the initiative set-up to fail.
True value in collaborative engagement programmes
Often it may be the first time people have been included in such a process and they can become valuable project champions. It removes the risk of change being “done to people” and ensures they are part of the change journey and it is not just something being imposed from a senior exec level.
Understanding drivers from all stakeholders, not just senior players, enables you to work with individuals, gauge appetite for change and the emotions surrounding it, and so really map out what you need to plan and consider as part of the journey.
Without an effective stakeholder engagement plan there is a risk that change initiatives that are perceived as being “driven from the top” will fail, or a perception that they are a cost cutting exercise and barriers can be put up. If people are not involved, they can feel pushed out, but get this process right where everyone is aligned and blockers can become the vital key into unlocking successful transformation.
i-Realise support businesses with this critical process using our practical and agile methodology through a series of workshops, training, engagement programmes and a collaborative approach.
Our approach is to work within your organisation so people don’t feel the change is “being done to them”, supporting and cultivating the teams in your business. Working alongside the business we train your people throughout the process, provide internal communication bridges and stop silos from forming.
We involve all stakeholders, right from the start, to understand what they do today, what their issues are, highlight root causes and then support specific and focused selling of the change to support transformation success.